Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
Some updates might be safe to uninstall, but doing so makes some risky assumptions. Most programs keep only the patches they need.
Is it safe to uninstall or delete updates to programs after one has installed them? My add/remove is chock full of updates and I'm thinking if they've been installed or superseded by later updates, I should be able to uninstall them.
Is it safe? Kinda, sorta, but not really.
Do I think you should do it? Nope.
The updates are there for a reason.
I do first have to say that since you mention generic "programs", this answer has to kind of assume the most common case. I'm certain that there are programs out there for which it's perfectly acceptable to uninstall, for example, version 1.2 if you have version 1.3 installed. It's bad programming on that application's part, but it could be quite ok.
I just have no way to know which programs you have that might fall into that bucket.
When updating itself a well behaved program will automatically remove any prior updates that are no longer necessary. In other words, they do the work you're asking about already. You'll often see this when installing a new version of a program; it might ask or instruct you to uninstall the old version first. The same is generally true with patches.
Windows itself typically has a long list of patches. When you install a service pack, such as XP's Service Pack 3, you'll see that long list get significantly shorter, since all the patches are "rolled up" into the service pack.
Now, you can uninstall individual patches. The problem is that you are undoing whatever it was the patch fixed. You might be re-introducing a security hole or some other kind of bug or vulnerability.
And sometimes you have to. But not for housekeeping. Occasionally, a patch will have unintended or unexpected side effects, and a temporary resolution might be to uninstall a specific fix.
So my advice is to leave them be. For the most part, the list of patches is there on purpose, and you don't really want to get rid of any of them.
Uncheck the "Show Updates" box at the top of the Add/Remove Window to hide them if they get in your way.